Rummanah Aasi
  I read Unwind by Neal Shusterman back in 2008. It was one of the most disturbing, thought provoking books that I've ever read. When I heard it was going to be series, I was simultaneously excited yet worried. My expectations for the sequel was very high and I left it unread for several days in fear that I would be greatly disappointed. After being reassured from fellow Unwind fans that I would enjoy it, I took the plunge and I wasn't disappointed.

Description (edited to avoid spoilers): In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to survive until they turn eighteen. The morality behind unwinding has finally been brought into question. It has now become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but expand, allowing the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished. In this chilling tale of survival, how far are you willing to go to save your own life?

Review: Please note that this review is intentionally vague in order to avoid spoilers for either of the books. In the Unwind series, our current world is in chaos. After a terrible war between the Pro-Life and the Pro-Choice, an amendment called "The Bill of Life" was added to the Constitution. The Bill of Life states that life of any child is protected from conception until the age of 13. Once a child reaches 13 a parent then has the right to unwind their child. Unwinding is a process where the child officially remains alive – but in a “divided state.” Every part of the body is harvested at a Harvest Camp and preserved and later used for people that need replacement parts. For example, if someone is suffering from heart failure – instead of having your traditional bypass surgery you just get a new, live heart that once belonged to a child that was Unwound. A parent or legal guardian can sign the unwinding order for any reason (i.e. they can't financially afford to support their child, don't like their child, etc) for their child until the child reaches 18. With this chilling and horrifying premise, Shusterman plays with all of our darkest fears such as death, abandonment, disappointment, and the fear of being unloved and challenges his readers to think of what lengths they would go to in order to save themselves in this gripping and brilliantly imagined thriller.
  While Unwind focuses on the individual, unwinding experiences of three teens, UnWholly provides its readers with a lot more historical context of how the Bill of Life came to be. Not only do we reconnect with the main cast of characters from the first book, we are also introduced to new characters, some of which you hate with a passion and others that evoke your sympathy yet make you feel uncomfortable with their presence. Each character is fully realized with their flaws and strengths drawn with equal strokes. The story is told through multiple perspectives, which is done quite well.
  UnWholly could have easily been your standard middle book, but thankfully Shusterman gives equal time to  character development and story arc without losing its intense action sequences and incredible pace in his short chapters. There were many times where I thought I knew where the story was headed, but the author threw a curve ball several times and left me unsure. I took a long time, by my standards, to finish UnWholly but that is not a reflection of the book's quality. For me the horror described both metaphorically and literally in the book seeped into my bones and I needed some distance after reading it which is why I read it sections. Still I had to force myself to close the book both in fear of the foreshadowing and ominous tones in the book.
  If you are looking for an edge of your seat thriller that makes you think and are tired of all the hype of the next dystopian ala "Hunger Games" derivative, definitely pick up this series. This series is sure to get you out of a reading rut and has been proven effective to get reluctant readers motivated. To those I've recommended this book to, I've not heard one disappointment yet. The Unwind series will make you feel wide range of emotions from anger to horror, but it will also show you what it means to be alive. Though UnWholly doesn't end in a cliffhanger, I'm very, very excited and interested to see how the events in this series unfold.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language, strong violence, disturbing images, and mature themes. Recommended for Grades 10 and up.

If you like this book try: Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, Gone series by Michael Grant, Afterschool Charisma series by Kumiko Suekane, Maze Runner series by James Dashner, Escape from Furnace series by Alexander Gordon Smith
12 Responses
  1. I haven't got to this one yet, but I've had some kids really love it -- already asking for the next one! I need to move this one up my list. Thanks!

  2. I have read some good reviews on this one, but I don't always do well with disturbing topics and your line about "The horror seeped into my bones" scares me....If I do read this, it won't be during the dark of winter when I get depressed from lack of sunlight anyway! Glad at least that this isn't a middle book.

  3. I think this series is so thought provoking. I just bought Unwind and Unwholly for my brother and can't wait to see what he thinks

  4. Betty Says:

    This one does look interesting. I have been looking for some books to read until March, when "Stelladaur: Finding Tir Na Nog" by S. L. Whyte comes out- looks like an an amazing YA three book series. Thank you for recommending "The Unwholly." I think I will enjoy it a lot.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    Unwind is one of my favorite Ya's, Ive been on the fence to read this one just cause number 2's sometimes ruin it....but I think Ill read now after your review. :)

  6. Jenny Says:

    Wow, this book looks and sounds creepy Rummanah! I'm so glad to hear it's a successful second book though, so many sequels slide into that "filler" category and don't really progress the story at all. Clearly not the case here, and I love that the author was continually able to surprise you. Fabulous review:):)

  7. I'm glad that so much backstory was included because that's what was missing from the first book. I really needed to know how some things came to be and it wasn't addressed in Unwind.
    I trust that Shusterman really made it work and I'll be reading this one soon.
    Wonderful review!

  8. Jenni Elyse Says:

    I recently read Unwind and I'm still not sure what I think of it. I enjoyed it, but it's not my typical read. It was good, but I thought it was left off in a good place and now I'm not sure I want to read Unwholly. But, you make it sound like I do. ;)

  9. Anonymous Says:

    I seriously loved the first two in the trilogy! UnWholly offers a lot in the way of thinking about moral quandaries and what is acceptable in our society. Great review. I am glad that you enjoyed it.

  10. I saw some mixed reviews for Unwind but the premise is just so fascinating. And since you loved the sequel as well, I think I'll try to read Unwind at some point just to see what kind of opinions I come up with. Great review, Rummanah!

  11. Disturbing images??? Ya think?? I cannot imagine the parent that signs up to unwind their child. Is that part believable. I know you so it must be. You don't buy into anything easily. Still this is a really disturbing world. I don't think it's my kind of story, but glad to know what it's about if I'm ever so inclined! You did an awesome job reviewing it!


  12. Rubita Says:

    I have the exact same feelings you did about reading this book. I really liked Unwind--or maybe that's the wrong word--I found it compelling and thought-provoking, definitely, with a liberal heaping of horror. The Unwinding scene at the end of the first book was so intense that I'm still recovering from it. I'm glad to know that you would recommend it, though.

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